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Powerful Addiction

Smoking and Cancer

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It's an addiction so powerful that even though cigarettes may contribute to a patient's cancer, it's the one habit many are unable to give up.

Nationally, it's estimated as many as one in three cancer patients smoke,.. in some groups, the numbers are even higher.

Dr. Peter Shields says "Smoking among cancer patients is a huge issue."
"The number of people who smoke among cancer patients is going to be higher than the general population.  My lung cancer patients probably fifty percent of them are active smokers."

So Dr. Shields of Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital helped to write new national guidelines.  He led a team of 26 top experts to set standards for the treatment and sport of patients who smoke.  The guidelines call for doctors to step up the use of medications and replacement products in cancer patients.

Offer more intensive one on one counseling and keep much more detailed records about the cancer patients smoking status and their attempts to quit in their medical file.

That information is crucial because smoking can not only impact cancer treatment effectiveness, but can put patients at greater risk of relapse or additional cancers.

Dr. Shields says "They've proven they can get a cancer once, they continue smoking, they're just going to get that additional cumulative genetic damage.  They're at a much greater rate of what we call a secondary cancer."

But with the new guidelines in place, doctors hope to more effectively treat cancer the first time by making sure patients have smoked for the last time.

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